Opinion & Analysis

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Can prizes motivate kids to show up at school?

It seems like a no-brainer: Offer kids a reward for showing up at school, and their attendance will shoot up. But a recent study of third-graders in India suggests that incentive schemes can do more harm than good.

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Close failing schools, whether district-run or charter

When the Philadelphia School Reform Commission recently voted to close two underperforming charter schools, it was making a decision that was in the best interests of students. The commission should go further and close the other underperforming public schools in the city: district-run schools.

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Biology test shouldn't prevent students' graduation

The Washington Legislature must act immediately to make common sense changes to the state's confusing, expensive and burdensome system of student testing. Why now? This is the first year that students must pass a biology assessment as a graduation requirement. Predictably, about 8,000 students statewide have not passed the test.

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Teachers: stop complimenting your students

A student's appearance should be the last thing of concern to a teacher, but more importantly, these comments — even when positive — can be damaging and hurtful to other kids. There are simply too many other things worth complimenting for any educator to be discussing physical appearance.

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Don't count PARCC while fixes unfold

New Jersey legislators should follow through in blocking the state's education commissioner from punishing students because of high opt-out rates. They should take statewide action to prevent PARCC scores from being used in any way for student placement or teacher evaluations for at least three years. The tests simply aren't ready to carry such high stakes.

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School districts struggle with hard realities

Each year at budget time, the aspirations that Maine school districts have for the education they provide run up against the cold, hard reality of steadily rising costs, additional mandates and, increasingly, diminished state aid. The delay as school districts and towns struggle to limit tax increases while still offering an adequate education is slowly killing both school districts and taxpayers.

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Change needed in school testing rule in Washington state

About 2,000 high school seniors will fail to graduate this year despite many having enough credits because they didn’t pass an end-of-course test for biology in 10th grade or meet the state academic standard through an alternative approach that evaluates classroom work samples. New legislation needs to find a compromise to reduce testing but retain standards for learning.

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Stealing from poor kids a new low for Illinois

Pension costs account for a quarter of the Illinois’ operating revenues, are rising by at least $1 billion a year and are squeezing dollars that could be used for education, human services and other vital programs. Over the past decade, the state has been taking more and more Title 1 funds to pay teacher pensions instead of aiding low-income students.

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The realities of teaching matter

The best educational systems in the world set high standards for students and then let teachers decide how to get there. Teachers are given time to collaborate and design curriculum to fit their students. Standardized tests are given sparingly and used for the purpose they were intended, to help the student.

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Are preschoolers getting enough exercise during school?

Preschoolers may not be getting enough exercise while attending preschool, according to a new study. Instead of participating in physical activities for the recommended 120 minutes per day, children were receiving just 48 minutes a day to run and play during preschool hours.

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